The very first word the Doctor says in the new series of Doctor Who is “Run,” and in the following scene we see him leading Rose Tyler down a basement hallway to escape a horde of shop-window dummies who have come to life. It is Russell T. Davies’ way of paying homage to the classic series, where “running through corridors” had become a familiar description of what various characters were often doing through many stories over the years.
In more recent seasons, the phrase “base under siege” has been resurrected to describe another Classic Who story type in which the characters find that the TARDIS has conveniently malfunctioned, leaving them stuck in one place, surrounded by an enemy of some sort and unable to escape until they’ve dealt with the problem.
Too often in my life I feel like I am doing nothing more than running through corridors, scrambling to keep up with everything that I need to do and racing to complete tasks as the deadlines loom ever nearer behind me. Other times it seems more like I am being bombarded from every side with one more assignment to complete, responsibility to take on, or situation to deal with.
I need my “to do” lists - by themselves they’re a highly useful tool, and the structure of a list helps me organize my time and efforts while preventing me from forgetting to take care of important things in a timely manner. The danger lies in letting my to do list become the end-all, be-all. I start out making a list as a plan of attack or a roadmap to a goal but all too soon checking things off becomes the all-encompassing mission and I find myself once again being chased down the corridor by a monster of my own making.
How do I remind myself to stop running, stop fighting? It’s a question I don’t have a good answer for, yet it is important, and needs to be addressed. Do I put “Be still” on my to do list? It’s there already, actually, and I check it off after I spend about five minutes with my eyes closed following my daily devotional reading each morning before I get out bed. It has become one more box to tick, one more step in my race through the day, rather defeating the purpose.
“Be still and know that I am God,” writes the Psalmist, and mostly it’s the “be still” that we have latched onto. But go back and read the whole Psalm - it’s the one that begins with another familiar and oft-quoted verse, the one that says “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” It is reminding us that yes, our base is under siege, but don’t forget that our besieged fortress is God himself and is therefore impenetrable. I pray that I will remember this when the to do list attacks. I pray that I may be able to stop running and to rest secure in the knowledge that God surrounds me whether I get everything done or not.